Princeton Weekly Bulletin   June 16, 2008, Vol. 97, No. 29   prev   next   current

10 faculty members transfer to emeritus status

Princeton NJ — Ten faculty members were transferred to emeritus status in recent action by the Board of Trustees.

They are: Peter Grant, the Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology; John Hopfield, the Howard A. Prior Professor in the Life Sciences; William Howarth, professor of English; Hisashi Kobayashi, the Sherman Fairchild University Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Joseph Kohn, professor of mathematics; Ralph Lerner, the George Dutton ’27 Professor of Architecture; Guust Nolet, the George J. Magee Professor of Geoscience and Geological Engineering; Giacinto Scoles, the Donner Professor of Science; Abraham Udovitch, the Khedouri A. Zilkha Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Near East; and Bastiaan van Fraassen, the McCosh Professor of Philosophy.

All are effective July 1, 2008, except for Lerner’s and Nolet’s, which were effective Feb. 1, 2008, and Grant’s, which is effective Sept. 1, 2008.

photo of Peter Grant

Peter Grant

Grant, renowned for his collaborative research on evolution with his wife Rosemary, joined the Princeton faculty in 1985. He previously held faculty positions at the University of Michigan and McGill University. He is a graduate of the University of Cambridge and holds a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia.

Grant and his wife, who is a senior research biologist at Princeton, have for three decades traveled to the Galápagos Islands off the coast of South America to study the various species of finch that influenced Charles Darwin when formulating his theory of evolution. Their research, which has inspired a generation of biologists and aided public understanding of evolution, has focused on how the finches have changed as a result of dramatic climatic differences. The Grants have documented their work in three books: “Ecology and Evolution of Darwin’s Finches,” “Evolutionary Dynamics of a Natural Population: The Large Cactus Finch of the Galápagos” and “How and Why Species Multiply: The Radiation of Darwin’s Finches.” Their research also was the subject of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Beak of the Finch” by Jonathan Weiner.

Grant served as chair of Princeton’s newly created Department of Ecology and Evolution Biology in 1990-91 after a year as director of the then-Program in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. He is a fellow of the Royal Societies of London and Canada, a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences, and a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. With his wife, he has been awarded the E.O. Wilson Prize of the American Society of Naturalists, the Darwin Medal of the Royal Society of London and the International Balzan Foundation Prize in Ecology and Evolution.

photo of John Hopfield

John Hopfield

Hopfield first came to Princeton in 1964 as a faculty member in physics after three years on the faculty at the University of California-Berkeley. He left for the California Institute of Technology in 1980 and returned to Princeton in 1997 as a faculty member in molecular biology. He also had a research relationship with Bell Laboratories for 40 years.

Early in his career, Hopfield conducted notable research on the emission and absorption of light by semiconductors. He then switched his focus from physics to biology and earned an international reputation for his pioneering applications of physics-related computational techniques to the emerging field of neurobiology. He has worked to develop a theoretical understanding of how the neural circuits of the brain perform complex calculations, investigating the way in which nerve cells work together to process sensory perceptions such as the recognition of odors or sounds. The Hopfield model of neural processing, which provides insight into the differences between computation in computers and the brain, has become widely referenced in the field. Hopfield also has made significant contributions to molecular biology in his elucidation of “kinetic proofreading” and to chemistry through his research on the role of cooperativity in the binding of oxygen atoms to hemoglobin.

Hopfield has received major recognition for his work, including a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” the Albert Einstein World Award of Science from the World Cultural Council and the American Physical Society’s Buckley Prize and Prize in Biophysics. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. A graduate of Swarthmore College, he received a Ph.D. from Cornell University.

photo of William Howarth

William Howarth

Howarth joined the Princeton faculty in 1966 after earning a bachelor’s degree at the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. A popular lecturer and innovative teacher, his courses at Princeton ranged from Shakespeare to Joyce, pre-colonial America to postmodern fiction. As an adviser he supervised 100 dissertations and 256 senior theses. He is an authority on Thoreau, having produced such seminal studies as “The Literary Manuscripts of Henry D. Thoreau,” “The Book of Concord: Thoreau’s Life as a Writer” and “Walking With Thoreau.” From 1972 to 1980 he served as editor in chief of the 25-volume “Writings of Henry D. Thoreau,” published by Princeton University Press.

His scholarly research falls into three linked phases: American romanticism, literary nonfiction and environmental humanities. He produced essays on autobiography and edited “The John McPhee Reader,” a book widely used in writing and journalism courses. He wrote more than 90 essays and reviews for major periodicals such as The Washington Post, The New York Times and Smithsonian. For 16 years he traveled and wrote for the National Geographic Society on history, literature, travel and natural science. These field experiences led him to teach Princeton’s first courses on literary geography, environmental history, American places, and the relations of race and place. He was the sole humanist to participate in forming the Princeton Environmental Institute, which he served for 16 years as member of its executive committee. As a scholar he became a primary voice in ecocriticism, an interdisciplinary movement that examines the role of human values in environmental issues.

In his 42 years at Princeton, Howarth wrote and edited 13 books, delivered hundreds of papers and lectures on nature-culture issues, served Princeton on 45 faculty committees and led 51 alumni seminars and colleges, recently on journeys to New Zealand and Tanzania.

photo of Hisashi Kobayashi

Hisashi Kobayashi

Kobayashi earned a Ph.D. from Princeton in 1967 after receiving B.S.E. and M.S.E. degrees from the University of Tokyo. He spent nearly two decades at IBM, where he conducted seminal research on data storage techniques and many other technologies, before returning to Princeton in 1986 as dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He served as dean through 1991, when he assumed full-time teaching and research duties in the Department of Electrical Engineering.

Kobayashi arrived at Princeton during a period of rapid expansion in the engineering school in terms of research within the engineering disciplines and of new links with other fields. He played a key role in establishing interdisciplinary centers and programs in areas such as materials science, opto-electronics, earthquake engineering, surface-engineered materials, discrete mathematics for computer science and plasma etching. During his five years as dean, the number of permanent faculty members in the school grew by almost 30 percent, and the undergraduate female enrollment increased from 20 percent to 25 percent. The total sponsored research grew by as much as 60 percent, and corporate gifts increased by 150 percent.

Kobayashi recently published “System Modeling and Analysis: Foundations of System Performance Evaluation” (with Brian Mark), and his book “Probability, Random Processes and Statistical Analysis” will be published next year. He is in the process of writing several textbooks based on his Princeton lecture notes. His honors include the Technology Award of the Eduard Rhein Foundation of Germany for his invention of a high-density digital recording technique that has been widely adopted as the industry standard in personal computers and MP3 players such as the iPod. He is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a member of the Engineering Academy of Japan.

photo of Joseph Kohn

Joseph Kohn

Kohn, a faculty member at Princeton since 1968, received a Ph.D. from the University in 1956 after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was an instructor for a year at Princeton after earning his Ph.D., then spent a year as a member of the Institute for Advanced Study before joining the faculty at Brandeis University in 1958. He spent 10 years at Brandeis before returning to Princeton.

Kohn is a major figure in modern mathematical analysis, whose groundbreaking work on the interaction between partial differential equations and functions of several complex variables has dominated that area of mathematical research over almost a half-century.  He served as chair of Princeton’s mathematics department from 1973 to 1976, from 1993 to 1996 and in 2002.

Kohn’s honors include the Steele Prize of the American Mathematical Society, which recognized his fundamental paper on harmonic integrals on strongly convex domains, the Bolzano Medal from the Czechoslovak Mathematics and Physics Society and the Stefan Bergman Prize in analysis from the American Mathematical Society. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Science. He has served the mathematical community in a wide range of positions, as editor of the Transactions of the American Mathematical Society and the Annals of Mathematics, as a member of the board of trustees of the American Mathematical Society and as a member of the board of the mathematical sciences of the National Academy of Science.

photo of Ralph Lerner

Ralph Lerner

Lerner joined the Princeton faculty in 1984 and served as dean of the School of Architecture from 1989 to 2002. He has retired from the University faculty to become dean of architecture at the University of Hong Kong. A graduate of the Cooper Union, he earned a master of architecture from Harvard University. He taught at the University of Virginia, the Polytechnic of Central London (now University of Westminster) and Harvard University before coming to Princeton.

During his tenure as dean of Princeton’s architecture school, Lerner built upon the excellence of a faculty already distinguished in design and the history of architecture, recruiting significant new faculty members in design and urban issues. He built the school’s international profile in terms of students and faculty and through new programs in Europe and Asia. Lerner strengthened the Ph.D. program in the history and theory of architecture. He diversified the undergraduate curriculum, adding courses in computing and imaging and restructuring courses in the area of building sciences to reflect advances in the field. He also introduced landscape studies into the undergraduate and graduate curriculum and oversaw renovations of the Architecture Building. 

Lerner also developed a significant design practice with work in urban design, historic preservation, exhibitions and furniture. He has been awarded numerous international design honors — most notably five Progressive Architecture Awards, including an award for the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in New Delhi and a citation for the plan for lower Manhattan’s financial district, which was a collaboration between his and several other design firms. Lerner’s work has been published in numerous architectural journals and has been exhibited at the National Building Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art in London and New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

photo of Guust Nolet

Guust Nolet

Nolet joined the Princeton faculty in 1991 and retired from the University to take a faculty position at the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis in France. He is a graduate of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, where he also earned a Ph.D. and served as a faculty member for 15 years before coming to Princeton.

Nolet pioneered the science of seismic tomography — the imaging of the deep Earth — and designed the first portable digital seismic array for field studies of the Earth’s interior structure. He led efforts to organize the archiving and distribution of digital seismic data from global networks, both in Europe and in the United States, where he was a longtime member of the board of directors of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, a consortium of more than 100 universities. As a result, scientists around the world can log in to the Internet to obtain seismic data within minutes of the occurrence of an earthquake. Nolet’s scientific accomplishments include the discovery of thermal plumes deep in the Earth’s mantle, using theoretical advances for the analysis of seismic waves developed with the late Princeton geoscientist Tony Dahlen.

At Princeton, Nolet taught the popular course on “Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Other Hazards” and served as associate chair of the Department of Geosciences. He also is a regular teacher at the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy, which mainly serves students from underdeveloped countries. He is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, the Academia Europea and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His honors include the Gutenberg Medal from the European Geophysical Society and the Bownocker Medal from Ohio State University.

photo of Giacinto Scoles

Giacinto Scoles (courtesy ICTP Photo Archives, Massimo Silvano)

Scoles graduated from the University of Genova in Italy, where he also received a degree equivalent to a Ph.D. and served as a faculty member from 1964 to 1971. He then taught at the University of Waterloo in Canada until 1987, when he joined the Princeton faculty. He became an American citizen in 1997. He also has taught part time at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, and is a long-term collaborator at the Elettra Synchrotron Laboratory in Trieste.

Scoles’ dedication to interdisciplinary work, with a fundamental approach to understanding problems at the boundary between physics and chemistry, has characterized his scientific career. At Princeton, he has been affiliated with both the chemistry department and the Princeton Materials Institute, which he played a leading role in establishing. Among his many research interests, Scoles has done notable work on atomic scattering, laser spectroscopy, intermolecular forces and surface organic chemistry. He organized and spearheaded the establishment of the experimental physics laboratory at the University of Trento in Italy, cofounded the Guelph-Waterloo Center for Graduate Work in Chemistry in Canada and currently is scientific coordinator of a new nanobiology laboratory at the Center for Biomolecular Medicine in Trieste.

Scoles is the editor of the two-volume “Atomic and Molecular Beam Methods,” which is considered the indispensable handbook for practitioners of the art of molecular beams. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of the United Kingdom and the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences of the Netherlands. He received the Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry of the American Chemical Society, the Earle K. Plyler Award in Molecular Spectroscopy of the American Physical Society and the prestigious Franklin Medal in Physics from the Franklin Institute.

photo of Abraham Udovitch

Abraham Udovitch

Udovitch, a graduate of Columbia University, earned a Ph.D. from Yale University. He taught at Brandeis and Cornell universities before coming to Princeton in 1967. He chaired the University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies from 1973 to 1977 and from 1980 to 1994, bringing to Princeton some of the world’s foremost scholars in Near Eastern history and Islamic studies.

Udovitch’s pioneering study, “Partnership and Profit in Medieval Islam,” and several articles on related subjects have represented a breakthrough in the understanding of the relation of Islamic law to everyday practice in the economic life of the medieval Middle East. The range and originality of his research can be seen in his articles on long-distance trade, the institutions of credit and banking in the medieval Islamic Near East, social and economic institutions of the medieval Islamic world, the duration of commercial voyages, the constitution of the traditional Islamic marketplace, and Jews and Muslims in Sicily in the 11th and 12th centuries, among other topics. With his wife Lucette Valensi, he wrote “The Last Arab Jews: The Communities of Jerba, Tunisia,” a study of socially and culturally self-contained Jewish communities in North Africa that had resisted both assimilation and migration.

Udovitch played an essential role in fostering his discipline by training some of the leading scholars in the field, organizing seminal conferences, editing many books on medieval and Islamic studies, and coediting the journal Studia Islamica for more than 30 years. In the 1970s, he served on various panels exploring the possibilities of peace in the Middle East and became a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was among five delegates chosen by the International Center for Peace in the Middle East in 1988 to meet with representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

photo of Bastiaan van Fraassen

Bastiaan van Fraassen

Van Fraassen, a Princeton faculty member since 1982, is a graduate of the University of Alberta and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to Princeton, he taught at the University of Southern California, the University of Toronto and Yale University.

Van Fraassen is one of the most prolific philosophers in the field, internationally recognized for his work in the philosophy of science through his seminal book “The Scientific Image,” in which he argues for a bold position that he calls “constructive empiricism.” He also is known for his contributions in many other areas, including philosophical logic, probability theory and epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of art and literature, and philosophy of religion. His books include “Laws and Symmetry,” “Quantum Mechanics: An Empiricist View” and “The Empirical Stance.” His forthcoming book is titled “Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective.”

Van Fraassen won the Franklin J. Matchette Prize of the American Philosophical Association and the Imre Lakatos Award in Philosophy of Science for “The Scientific Image.” He also received a Guggenheim Fellowship and Princeton’s Behrman Award for distinguished achievement in the humanities, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His colorful personality has made him a popular presence in the philosophy department and even inspired a Princeton rock band known as the Van Fraassens. Outside of philosophy, he has published short stories, has been an enthusiastic rock climber for many years and recently took up the trapeze. 

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